Our fortunate weather patterns have given us a gorgeous Seattle summer! We Seattleites tend to have a short memory when we are basking in the late-setting Northwest sun and inevitably, when we are having a summer like this, asking sellers about their winter utility bills slips as a home buying priority. This is likely also a factor of our very fast market, but buyers, I urge you to do your homework and find out more about your potential investment.
Luckily most inspectors will do a cursory investigation of the heating system if the buyer has ordered an inspection. The inspector will report back on the age and condition of the system and make recommendations. Occasionally, they will recommend the system is serviced which can then be an item that the buyer and seller negotiate on regarding post-inspection repairs. However, in a market like this, buyers are opting to forgo asking for work like this to be done and often, it isn’t until that first cold snap and the subsequent huge bill arrives for the issue to be thought of again.
Buyers, here is a checklist of home heating items to find out from the seller. Remember, especially in older homes, you may have more than one system that you need to be aware of. There may have been an add-on that uses electric baseboard heating whereas the rest of the home is on propane or a heat pump.
- What are the different ways this home is heated?
- How does each system work? (wall-mount gauges, automatic temperature control, etc)
- Is there something I have to do when it gets cold? (switch the system on, light the pilot light, etc)
- When were the different systems installed?
- When was the last time they were serviced?
- Where do I get the filters? (or other items that the homeowner is responsible for replacing)
- Who provides the fuel? (Puget Sound Energy, Seattle City Light, Cascade Natural Gas, etc)
- What were your utility bills for the last 12 months? (ask for the total of each fuel – electric, gas, oil, propane, wood, etc – by month)
- Where is the warranty information and operations manual?
Sellers, I recommend getting your heating system serviced before putting the home on the market and changing out the filter. The summer is a great time to ask your repair company for a tune-up special which is just one less thing for an inspector to have a challenge with.
You can bask in the sun, but don’t forget to plan for the frigid months ahead, especially if you will be wintering in a new home. Please contact me to learn more: (206) 226-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.